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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Can Homeschooled Children Deal With the Real World?

My mother-in-law says my homeschooled children will not be able to deal with the real world.

You need to kindly let her know that the “real world,” the secular Godless culture, is what you want your children to avoid until they have the teaching and training they need to be able to “stand their ground” against the pressure of the real world.

Nothing in the Bible indicates our little ones must fight the battle. We build a safe fortress and teach them how to fight for God’s teachings, and when they reach maturity, when they have the proper sword and shield of the teachings of Jesus and His Church, they can, and will, go into battle.

Beyond that, the average school bears little relation to the “real world.” In the real world, everyone has to be able to deal with many different types of people, especially people of different ages, different interests, and different levels of maturity. Except in school, when will anyone ever be grouped simply with people of the same age?

My son is finding high school difficult, and says he wants to take the GED and go into the army. He is bright, but struggles to stay focused on his studies.

I would have him visit one of the army recruiters and find out the kinds of jobs he will get in the army without an excellent high school education. Like any business, the army will give appropriate jobs based on skills and education. We have found that when young men have at least one year of college, they obtain higher level jobs in the services.

There’s also the problem of whether the military would allow your son to join at all. All the service branches have limits on what percentage of their recruits can be GED holders, and GED holders often must score higher on aptitude and other tests.

It sounds like your son needs to improve on his study skills, which start with focusing on the job, an important requirement in the army and in life. We have a Study Skills course on our website.

A frequent problem home study students have is that they are easily distracted by the activities going on in the house. Some students have found that going to a local library for two or three hours a day forces them to stay in their chair and do the work. Nevertheless, if your son does this, be sure you stay involved with him and his studies by asking him questions and discussing his coursework.

Your son might become more interested in his courses if he goes on the Seton Message Board and converses with other Seton students taking the same courses.

You might also want to talk to a high school counselor for some advice on how you and your son can formulate a realistic plan for him to finish high school.

My son is not interested in writing his book report. He interprets the warm weather as school is out! What should I do?

Sometimes the two can work together. Many students are “inspired” by the outdoor weather. Try giving your son a half-hour of outside playtime as a reward if he finishes his book report. If you have a deck, tell him he can write his report outside on the deck or the porch. Some moms give their students a card table on the porch for their work, and then they can play in the yard or play cards or other educational “games” on the porch.

An open porch works, but a screened in porch works better, and a porch with windows can be a favorite study area in the sunny days of winter!

I work part-time, but my daughter, an A student in 9th grade, wants to homeschool. She thinks she could do more and do better at home.

It is not unusual, actually, for some young people at about age 13 or 14 to come to understand the difference in the values of their home versus the values of the school. In addition, young people often realize that education can be more, that there are great ideas and quality literature, that the teenage culture offers little that is of lasting value.

Teens who have good Christian values can be mocked and ridiculed for their traditional values, and often not just by the students. Other students just become tired of the drama and the “arms race” that is the never-ending teenage need to be accepted by the in-crowd.

If your daughter thinks she can do it, give it a try. If it doesn’t work out, she can always go back to school. It’s hard to imagine she will be worse off for having homeschooled for a year.

My oldest is going to be starting 9th grade on the Seton program. What should we be thinking about to prepare him for college?

We consider Seton to be a college preparatory program, and most of our students do go on to college. Of course, a good high school education is also vital in itself, even if a student does not go to college.

The best way to prepare for getting into college is to encourage your son to do his best. Although colleges place great emphasis on the SAT or ACT test, high school grades are very important as well, especially if a student wishes to attend a selective college.

The greatest way to prepare your son for success in college is to help him with his study skills, especially with organization and self-motivation. Once a student is in college, there is no one around every moment to tell the student to do the necessary work. When a professor assigns a paper to be due on a certain day, it is expected that the student will have it done on that day, without anyone pushing the student to complete it. Students who know how to organize and budget their time and push themselves have a huge advantage.

I am not an organized person. Do you have some tips for me?

Think about how you organize your kitchen. You want everything to have a certain place where you know you can find it at anytime you need it. Do the same with the children’s books, papers, rulers, pens, pencils, notebooks, lesson plans, or whatever they need. Some parents use bookcases. Some parents buy big colorful plastic tubs, and each child keeps his own homeschooling materials in his own tub. This keeps homeschooling supplies from being scattered around the house.

Be sure to keep your own supplies organized, and even give your children responsibility for keeping the house organized. Each child should be given a responsibility for keeping a room cleaned, or helping with the dinner preparations or cleanup, and so on.

Homeschooling moms need to realize that they are not only teachers, but are also managers of a small school. To make it all work, you have to make the best use of the resources you have.

You don’t necessarily need to do all the organizing and planning yourself. Your spouse and your children are part of this project as well, and it’s a good idea to incorporate their ideas. The more input everyone has in formulating an organizational plan, the more all members will feel that it is “their” plan, and not something which has been imposed on them.

For more help, you might want to check out Ginny Seuffert’s book Home Management Essentials, which is available from Seton Educational Media. You can also find lots of suggestions and organizational materials online.

About Dr. Mary Kay Clark

Director of Seton for more than 25 years. Dr. Clark left Mater Dei Academy and began teaching her children at home at seeing firsthand the opportunities and the pitfalls of private schooling. Meet Dr. Clark | See her book
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